Author: Craig Calcaterra

Jose Pirela

Yankees trade infielder Jose Pirela to the Padres for a minor-league pitcher


I feel like the Yankees have traded with the Padres a billion times in the past 20-25 years. Maybe a little less than a billion, but they seem to trade a lot. And sign each other’s free agents.

These two teams dealt again today. It was not Chase Headley-level deal. It was not Andy Hawkins or Dave Winfield relocating from on coast to the other. But on November 11 we take any deals we can: The Yankees traded Jose Pirela to the Padres for minor-league pitcher Ron Herrera.

Pirela was thought by some to be the Yankees’ second baseman of the future and, to some degree, was given consideration as that by the club. He turns 26 in a couple of weeks, however, and has only been given 103 major league plate appearances in the past two years. His 2014 cup of coffee encouraged those who think things like “sample size” is the stuff of sorcery — he hit well in a mere 25 plate appearances– but in 2015 he hit poorly with a tad more exposure. His decent performance in Triple-A and a fresh start in San Diego could bode well for his future, however.

Herrera is only 20 but already has 82 minor league games — 74 of them as a starter — under his belt. In that time he is 23-24 with a 3.80 ERA and a 296/100 K/BB ratio in 415 innings. His top stop has been Double-A San Antonio where he was rather “meh” in eight starts this year. Figure on him beginning 2016 in Double-A as well.

Police incident report lists “overdose” as a possible cause of Tommy Hanson’s death

Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Tommy Hanson (48) works in the first inning of a baseball game against the Miami Marlins in Atlanta, Thursday, Sept. 27, 2012. The Braves won 6-2. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

When a 29-year-old athlete dies suddenly it’s only natural to wonder how such an awful thing could’ve happened. And, unfortunately, it’s understandable to wonder if drugs played a part.

In the case of former Braves and Angels pitcher Tommy Hanson, we don’t know and won’t know what his official cause of death was for some time, but Atlanta’s WSB-TV and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution are reporting that an initial police report listed “overdose” as a possible “crime” connected to his death. Toxicology reports, however, could take several weeks to come back and a final cause of death determination is for a coroner, not the police.

Sad circumstances regardless.

The Reds are apparently open for business

Aroldis Chapman

The Reds have a lot of good players for being such a crappy team. I can’t decide if that’s more or less frustrating than simply having crappy players.

On the one hand, as a Braves fan, I can tell you that simply having a roster of crappy players is pretty miserable and that it’d be cool to at least see guys like Joey Votto, Todd Frazier or Aroldis Chapman play a lot. On the other hand, if you’re a Reds fan, you have to live with the notion that the team you root for is dramatically less than the sum of its parts and that’s just some existential angst in the making.

Luckily — or unluckily, depending on your point of view — the Reds will likely not have as many good players come spring. That’s because, as Buster Olney and many others are reporting, the Reds are listening to offers on basically everyone, including Chapman. Olney recently referred to it as a Chicago Cubs/Houston Astros-style rebuild.

That may be a tad extreme in that the selling already began last summer when the Reds traded Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake prior to their walking in free agency and unloaded Marlon Byrd. They got some decent players in return — particularly the three lefties the Royals gave them for Cueto — so it’s not like they’re starting completely from square one. The problem is that their offensive core, led by Votto and Frazier, is going to be long in the tooth by the time anything approaching a decent pitching staff has been assembled and matured. And, in the meantime, the Reds are playing in the toughest division in baseball.

Figure Chapman to get the most play in the short term and then, if he’s dangled, Frazier. In the meantime figure on the Reds not being very good for a few years.

The Yankees and Mariners have discussed Brett Gardner

Toronto Blue Jays v New York Yankees

Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have discussed Brett Gardner with the Mariners.

Sherman says that new M’s GM Jerry Dipoto has coveted Gardner for some time and that the Yankees would like to add starting pitching. Sherman says that James Paxton could be someone the Mariners would be willing to discuss.

Gardner hit .259/.343/.399 with 16 homers and 20 stolen bases in 2015. Paxton started 13 games at the big league level for Seattle, posting a 3.90 ERA and a K/BB ratio of 56/29 in 67 innings.

Gambling scandal in Japan leads to the banning of three Yomiuri Giants players


When it comes to sports and gambling, we’re definitely in a time of crazy, crazy transition in which whether it is illegal, regulated, monitored or completely normalized depends, quite literally, on where you stand. Three news nuggets regarding gambling and baseball from the past 18 hours or so make that quite clear.

The Japan Times reports that three Nippon Professional Baseball players have been banned by the league indefinitely following a gambling scandal. The three — Yomiuri Giants pitchers Satoshi Fukuda, Shoki Kasahara and Ryuya Matsumoto — admitted to gambling on NPB games, high school games and even U.S. Major League games. The team has been fined ¥10 million (~$81,000). No evidence has emerged that the three or anyone else was involved in fixing games, but links to organized crime are being investigated. Regardless, gambling on baseball is illegal in Japan in and of itself.

Meanwhile, Eric Fisher of Sports Business Daily reports that Major League Baseball entered into a partnership with a company called Sport Integrity Monitor, which monitors sports gambling markets for suspicious activity. Many European sports leagues have agreements with SIM — sports gambling is fairly ubiquitous in Europe — but Major League Baseball is the first North American sports league to do so. The idea, obviously, is to look for anomalies which could suggest that a fix is in, either in the gambling market, the game itself or both.

Finally, yesterday the New York Attorney General declared daily fantasy sports sites to be illegal online gambling operations and has ordered the companies not to accept entries from residents of New York state. This includes games run by Major League Baseball’s business partner DraftKings, and FanDuel, in which NBC Sports is invested and partnered.

Be careful out there, my risk-taking friends.